A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

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A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Mary's best friend has just moved away, and her gran is dying in hospital. But as four generations of women, both living and dead, come together for one last joyful outing, she learns that death need not be the end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 168 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781407129341

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Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

Mary's life seems full of grief at the moment. Her grandmother, whom she loves dearly, is dying in hospital, and at the very moment when she needs the comfort of a good friend, her bestie Ava has had to move away. But unlike many young fictional heroines, Mary has a strong and loving family to support her, and it is with them that she shares this glorious adventure.

Mary accompanies her mum on the daily visits to the ward, and is young and unself-conscious enough to clamber up on the bed each time to give granny a hug. And because this is Roddy Doyle, even the saddest of situations has its funny side. When the ghost of her great-grandmother joins them in the family kitchen, Mary's two brothers flee, not because they sense anything paranormal (their sensing seems restricted to what's in the fridge) but because they can't cope with so many females all at once in the same place. How many sisters will nod wisely as they recognise that situation? And so a story which could be quite scary and morbid is actually firmly grounded, to such an extent that the appearance of a ghost with a task to fulfil quickly turns into a simple, if unusual, family event.

Conventional wisdom dictates that young people prefer to read about characters slightly older than themselves, and indeed mature readers of about nine to eleven years old will cope with the story of twelve-year-old Mary and her family perfectly well. But young adults and indeed those of riper years will find just as much to enjoy and think about in these pages. Mary is on the cusp of adulthood, neither child nor grown-up, and she is already suffering because of the departure of her best friend. Change is in the air for her and as far as she is concerned, the loss of her beloved gran is one adjustment too many. Slightly older readers, who face countless small milestones during adolescence both in their physical development and at school, will easily relate to Mary and sympathise with her wish for things to be just the way they were when she was younger, when life was straightforward and secure. And adults too will be moved by this account of one young woman who died too soon and feels unable to leave her child, of another woman loth to lose her mother, and a third who lies in her hospital bed afraid to shut her eyes and go to sleep in case she doesn't wake up again.

The story contains a lot of the quick-fire, teasing dialogue typical of loving families, and also many moments to giggle over (well, how does a ghost get an ice cream out of a locked shop?). It deals with serious questions in a way which is both bitter-sweet and direct, and its brevity means it will appeal to a wide range of readers. Light-hearted but not lightweight, sweet but not saccharine, touching but not mawkish – this book is well worth reading.

Younger readers who want to read more about bereavement will enjoy The Savage by David Almond and Dave McKean, while older ones will love the exquisite Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

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Buy A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle at Amazon.com.

Booklists.jpg A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2012.

Booklists.jpg A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle is in the The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013.


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